Blanka Kajdon: “I am here to evolve”
Molde Elite are getting ready for a new season in the EHF European League Women, where the Norwegian team will face JDA Bourgogne Dijon Handball in qualification round 2 on Saturday (23 September) in France and the week after at home. One of the new faces in the Molde squad is Hungarian international Blanka Kajdon, widely regarded as one of the brightest talents of her country.
Hungarian women’s handball is aiming to once again reach the peak of the sport, or even set new heights. At the turn of the millennium, the national team was among the best, and although the trend has changed in the last couple of years, their success in the Younger Age Category tournaments shows the progress.
Blanka Kajdon is one of the shiniest talents, who can be the face of handball in her country, just like Anita Görbicz was back in the days and the comparison could be continued, however, Kajdon foresees a different path for herself.
Born in the city of one the biggest handball powerhouses in Hungary, Veszprém, handball was inevitable. Playing three years in the domestic first league while reaching the final of the IHF Women’s Junior World Championship and being part of the All-star Team brought a lot of experience and a learning curve, but one thing has never changed.
“I believe in hard work, I always have, but I am not alone. I want to be quicker, stronger and a better decision maker, however, everybody wants to be the best,” Kajdon explains her mindset.
Playing the centre back position means pressure. Anita Görbicz, five-time EHF Champions League winner, used to play in the same position, but the likeness does not end there. She also finished as runner-up in the Junior World Championship back in 2001 and believes in nothing but putting in the grind. Although the legend of Györi Audi ETO KC has never left Hungary for any other club, one more thing is the same: neither of them lacks motivation.
“Learn, work, get experience and perform. All I want is to evolve. My first idea was to move to Denmark or France. Then, I learnt that Molde HK Elite had an interest in me, and I talked with coach Tor Odvar Moen. After that, I had no doubts anymore about my future,” the 1.70m-tall back says.
The Norwegian head coach who led Kajdon's former club Siófok KC for three years was a key person in making the decision.
“To me, he is one of the best coaches. I have learnt a lot from him already and I believe that with his help, I will be a more complete player, who can play on both sides of the court. Not to mention that he understands the Hungarian culture and work ethic. Therefore, I brought him Erős Pista, a Hungarian spicy sauce when I arrived to Molde for the first time; he seemed to be just as happy as if we had just won a game.”
At the shore of Lake Balaton lies the city of Siófok. The town’s club changed its player policy and although they won the EHF Cup in 2018/19 and finished as runners-up two seasons later, they no longer have a squad in the first league. Thus, the players looked for new employers. The adjustment affected Blanka as well, as she highlighted that this period taught her a lot, and not only about handball.
“A new chapter started in my life and I like this season’s goals. We expect to finish in the top four in the domestic league, while the cup also plays an important role. Our path to the group phase of the EHF European League is not easy. First, we face Dijon, and if we advance, another French team awaits us: the very experienced Neptunes de Nantes. Both of the matches seem to be wild rides, but we believe in the strength of our team and Tor. In the qualification stage, we have to take the challenges step-by-step.”
As the centre back usually controls the offence, the Hungarian player expects a lot of things to look after. She wants to be one of the main players in Molde.
“I need to perform my absolute best on both ends. I want to be as good a defensive player as an attacker. I am here to evolve, to speed up and be more effective. My goal is to understand, learn Scandinavian handball and use the knowledge,” she explains.
Kajdon also puts extra effort into her development off the court. She spends extra hours in different training sessions and in the gym, and takes care of her body by paying extra attention to her nutrition.
Our path to the group phase of the EHF European League is not easy. First, we face Dijon, and if we advance, another French team awaits us: the very experienced Neptunes de Nantes. Both of the matches seem to be wild rides, but we believe in the strength of our team.
The Norwegian club started the 2023/24 season with a freshened-up squad which could be one of the advantages for Molde, as their opponents have never seen them in that formation. There are plenty of new players and the lineup is full of local players, but Marketa Sustackova from the Czech Republic, Romé Steverink from the Netherlands, Mathilde Rømer from Denmark, and Kajdon spice up the Scandanavian game style.
“I expect us to net 30 goals on average. The whole lineup believes in teamwork and this could lead us to reach new heights,” Kajdon says.
A new team means a new system to learn up for Kajdon.
“Molde plays with completely different tactics than those of my previous clubs. However, this is what really inspires me, to learn everything about handball, to be ready for any kind of challenge.”
Molde Elite HK are still undefeated after four games and the Hungarian newcomer scored five times. Although the city is very close to the Arctic, the world junior champion silver medallist enjoys the current situation and the vibe of the environment.
“I live only five minutes away from downtown and I can see the Norwegian sea from my living room window. Our playing hall is only 10 minutes by foot and I started to learn the language," Kajdon says.
“However, one of my first experiences went a little bit different than expected. Before my debut, I asked my teammates how to say ‘Have a good game’. My pronunciation was clearly not good, because the opponent reacted completely unexpectedly. If we reach the group stage and face a Hungarian team, I will teach my teammates this short sentence properly in my native language, for sure.”
photos © Jon Forberg